09 April 2020
Majors Events are on the Brink
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared that the spread of COVID-19 had become a pandemic. The disease, which was first detected in China in December 2019, has quickly spread globally and amassed more than 118,000 cases, spread out over 114 countries as of mid-March. Tragically, more than 5,000 people have died as a result of the outbreak.
A few days after the pandemic announcement, the Masters was called off The first men's major championship of the year, due to start on April 9 at Augusta National in Georgia, made its first postponement since World War II, which stopped the tournament running in 1943, 1944, and 1945.
The Masters came under pressure after the PGA Tour canceled its marquee event, the PLAYERS Championship, following play of the first round. The organizers of the men’s professional golf tours in the United States and North America also removed the Valspar Championship, World Golf Championship Match Play, and the Texas Open from the schedule.
Despite some suggestions that the Masters could be played without spectators, the rapidly unfolding crisis in the United States left only one sensible choice.
"Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women's Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals," Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National said in a statement. "The health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision.”
As a result of the decision, there is no golf scheduled on the PGA Tour until the RBC Heritage on April 16, while the European Tour's next event is set to be the Andalucia Open on April 30. The first women's major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, was also called off on March 13.
There is still a chance that the Masters will go ahead at a later date in 2020, however, that will be completely dependant on the development of the outbreak. Three other majors are also waiting to see how the outbreak progresses. The PGA Championship, scheduled to be held from May 14-17, is the next event of the year after the Masters and is followed by the US Open (June 18-21) and the Open Championship (July 16-19). The three Majors might face the same fate as the Masters if the situation continues to worsen.